Melody Hames clips horses for a living. But her work is so much more than a “simple” body clip. Body clipping a horse is never easy, but Harmes does something so much more – her exquisite designs and intricate details transform normal clipping into an art.
Located in Lancashire, northwest of England, JMC Equestrian Custom Clipping is the result of her strong creative streak and a passion and intuition for horses, Hames told iHeartHorses.
She started out with regular clipping in 1999. She had a Connemara pony who suffered from Cushings disease, and so he needed to be regularly clipped since his body no longer shed out properly on its own. She perfected regular body clipping on him. A friend of hers approached her and asked her to do a simple star on her horse. And rest, as they say, was history.
Hames started custom clipping all over the northwest. While she does help out a friend of her groom dogs from time to time, horses are where she shines.
“Horses are my natural passion and first choice when it comes to grooming and clipping,” Hames said. “It just comes naturally. I’m addicted to working and hours pass by and before I know it, I have done 4 or 5 horses and it’s the end of the day.”
The designs she chooses comes from the owners’ requests and she says each one sharpens her skills as she as to figure out how to accomplish what the owner envisions. Her degree in graphic design has also proven handy as she finds ways to put someone’s 2D idea onto a 3D horse.
Incredibly, the designs are done “Free hand” without the use of stencils.
Some have chastised her for what she is doing, even going so far as to call it animal cruelty. But, Hames is very aware of the horse’s attitude throughout the whole processes and focuses on turning body clipping (regular or custom) into a pleasant experience. In fact, she has never had to sedate a horse for a creative clip and she never will.
In addition, she has clipped several horses in their “natural state” that she said had previously needed to be put under sedation by other clippers. She specializes in working with young and nervous horses to teach them how relax during the process.
“I make it my mission build up horses’ confidence to allow me to work without sedation,” she explained. “The horses I work with are calm, relaxed and made to feel completely at ease so standing around is no problem at all! After all, horses are built to stand up. I think a lot of people who say I am bad for clipping don’t consider this!”
And, she doesn’t groom a horse for hours on end with no breaks.
“Regular breaks are taken during the bigger clips and sometimes even split over several sessions,” she added. For example, Armour De L’amore was spread over three separate days! You cannot force a horse to stand to complete a creative clip if it does not want to do so! I asses the horse's behavior and work to each horse's individual needs to provide them with a happy and positive experience every single time.”
Which brings us to – what her advice would be for anyone wanting to try their clippers at creative designs? Harmes replied:
"To anybody wanting to try their hand at clipping my main advice would be to exercise patience, persistence and perseverance - don't give up before you start - don't be afraid to make mistakes, this is only way to perfect a craft and clipping is very much a craft learned only by experience. Get to know your area if interest and read about it too, learn about your equipment and most of all listen to the horse stood in front of you."
Here are more examples of her amazing work. (Images are reprinted with express permission from Melody Hames).